Making Advent Special: Write your list

Christmas Morning by Carl Larsson

Christmas Morning by Carl Larsson

It’s the first of the big ones today as we make a list of everyone who we’ll be buying a present for. I like to start with my immediate family, for whom the list of presents is longest, including stockings and multiple gifts under the tree.

A few years ago I picked up from The Art of Simple the idea of a simple stocking plan, which is to include in everyone’s stocking:

  • something they want
  • something they need
  • something to wear
  • something to read
  • I added on something to do, and something to eat!

It’s a great way to work out a shopping list and to keep the contents to a manageable number. My mum used to literally fill our stockings, I don’t know how she managed to buy it all, pay for it, store it, or wrap it, I really don’t! What a star. I’m less of a star and love this method. And to be honest my children’s favourite items seem to be the candy cane, clementine, and gold chocolate coins every year. It sounds quaint and unbelievable I know but I’ve heard them say it I promise!

Next I move on to our main presents. Usually these include at least one shared present. This year I’m including games, books, family DVDs, and lots of LEGO (shhhh don’t tell them!). My husband reads this so I can’t share my ideas for him, except to say of course they are fab 😉

I love presents and giving presents, but I am one of those people who tends to buy what they would like. I am not naturally very good at individualisation, or thinking what people would most like themselves. Now that I know that I try to think things through more carefully, and sometimes seek help from God, who after all knows them best. In one way this feels a bit over spiritual, but on the other hand all of our life should be perfectly in tune with Him so I think I should probably do even more of it. I’d love to know what role prayer plays in your gift list?

Once this is done I feel that I’m at least half way there and that helps me to keep going to my wider family and friends. For those who also have a birthday in December or January I try to work out their presents at the same time. Part of our family lives in Australia so I try to order directly from Australian websites or pick things that are light to post.

I usually write out my list of names, and fill in the ideas that I have already. That feels like quite a feat, so I usually wait a few days after that to go back and finish the list for the people for whom I’m not sure what to buy or make. I’m tempted to keep just filling in a few and leaving the hard ones for another day or two, but this year I have managed to complete the full list in two sittings, with a little will power but not too much agonising. Perhaps those prayers were just the right thing after all!

Will you be making any presents this year? I have started some cute knitted key-rings, and bought up lots of charity shop tea cups for candle making.

A final note might be about budget. Do set a realistic budget. I like to be generous but I do believe we should be able to pay for our presents without getting stressed or in debt. One year we had to halve our present buying budget. It was really hard and I fought against doing it for a long time. In the end though it was quite fun, if a challenge, to find everyone a present. And I am so glad that I did this. I feel now that instead of having to spend a certain amount we can work out what we can afford and be happy if this sometimes goes down as well as up.

Now, go make your list! If you fancy, please leave a comment sharing any present buying or stocking filling tips you have.

About expectantlylistening

Writing about my contemplative journey to come closer to Jesus. I hope to inspire and equip others on their journey.
This entry was posted in Advent, Christmas, Planning and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Making Advent Special: Write your list

  1. betsydecruz says:

    Hi Victoria! These are agreat ideas for making a gift list. I like the idea of doing it NOW since that is one of the things that adds MOST STRESS if left until December. This afternoon, I plan on looking through the rest of these advent posts. Such a great idea.

  2. I’ve been to tell you how much I’ve appreciated these advent posts! We’re always looking for ways to keep the holiday season quiet and slow–the right atmosphere to receive the spiritual gifts of this oh so special time.

    On that note, we actually decided “no gifts” this year. Well, not in the most extreme way–but we’re focusing on the immediate family (no staying up late knitting for the nephews and godchildren) and making sure that everyone has at least one gift to give and receive, instead of everyone giving something to everyone else in the family. We really wanted to leave room for giving out of love and inspiration, instead of a touch of obligation. I know we’ll get back to more gift giving in the coming years, because we love it so! but for right now, life is just so full it becomes a stress to create or acquire something for all of the people in our lives that we love! We spend so much time on it that there’s not enough space for opening our hearts to the Spirit during this time.

    Since our kids were little we’ve decided against Santa. We’re not opposed to Santa really. It’s just that we didn’t feel a connection to the picture behind Santa–so commercialized and all. I know this might become an issue in the future, but so far it has not come up. We leave Christmas day as a celebration as the birth of Christ, and share in gift giving as a symbol of the gift that He gave to us all. We did find a connection to the story of the generosity of Saint Nicholas, so he does come to our house on Dec 6th, fills our stockings with pomegranates, treats, a small toy and usually something warm and wooly that the child is in need of–a hat, mittens, for example. He also leaves a big basket of exciting food items to fill the pantry. Just enough magic to make them not feel left out when Santa is comin’ to town!

    • That sounds wonderful, it’s so special that your family has been able to connect and agree on this way forward, for now at least. And I love the idea of stockings on December 6th. We were fairly new Christians when we had children, and neither of us grew up in a Christian home so it wasn’t until it was ‘too late’ that we really started to wonder about Santa! Our two oldest I think now know he isn’t real and we never made a big thing of it – no letters to him etc. My youngest still talks about Santa so it’s an interesting one for us to keep pondering and it’s really helpful to hear how other families manage the worldly Christmas vs the birth of Christ with love.

      Thanks so much for commenting, I was beginning to tire a little of all these Advent posts so it’s very timely encouragement!

  3. Pingback: Making Advent Special: Christmas Shopping | expectantly listening

  4. Pingback: Making Advent Special: Catch up Day | expectantly listening

  5. Pingback: Making Advent Special: Final preparations | expectantly listening

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